|Eight out of ten recession-hit Greeks have reduced heating expenses compared to last year, a poll showed on Tuesday as the distribution of heating oil started.
While meteorologists forecast a harsh winter ahead, Greek households plan to further slash spending on heating due to their financial hardship, according to a survey conducted for environmental organization WWF Greece by polling firm Public Issue.
With the average price of heating oil reaching up to 1.3 euros per liter (1.76 U.S. dollars) after the tax hike last year, consumers are cutting back on orders or turn to alternative ways to keep warm.
As more and more Greeks used fireplaces and stoves, Athens and many other urban centers across the country faced smog problems for first time after decades last winter.
Three in ten respondents in the survey indicated air pollution from cars and heating as the top environmental problem in Greece. However, they noted that they are forced to use firewood for economic reasons.
The increase of taxes for purchase of heating oil from 60 euros per 1,000 liters to 330 euros last year as part of efforts to raise revenues to address the debt crisis has led to a sharp reduction of sales of about 70 percent compared to past seasons, according to fuel suppliers.
They do not appear optimistic for the coming winter despite a 5 percent reduction of price compared to last year. The government has pledged that more households will receive subsidies for heating.
According to the Finance Ministry about 600,000 vulnerable households will receive a 0.35 euros per liter subsidy.